We all knew that Shawn Thornton was going to get a significant suspension. It was just a matter of how long it would be, and when the news would be dropped. Well, we finally know the facts. Thornton has been suspended for 15 games.
In case you do not know the goings on that led to this suspension, here's a brief synopsis of what went down. First, Pittsburgh's Brooks Orpik hit Boston's Loui Eriksson in a fashion that, while not ideal, was not dirty, but it did lead to a concussion for Eriksson unfortunately. Since the world is a stupid place, he thinking was that Orpik had to pay for his hit, and Thornton was the guy who was going to make it happen. He challenged Orpik to a fight, but Orpik did not want to fight. This would not do, and since, again, the world is a stupid place, Thornton decided to take matters into his own hands. And so, he grabbed Orpik from behind, knocked him to the ground, and then punched him a couple times. You know, like heroes do.
Orpik had to be stretchered off the ice, and he is currently on injured reserve with a concussion. Now, I presume that this is not what Thornton wanted to have happen, but the fact remains he attacked somebody without provocation and injured them severely. It was one of the uglier events to take place on the NHL ice in a while, and brought the kind of negative attention the league does not care for, and which frankly is usually a bit unfair all told. Nevertheless, a severe penalty was needed, and 15 games seems to be just that.
It is one of the longer suspensions ever given out, and Thornton has already been sitting out waiting for this punishment to be handed out. It seems fair, and kudos to the league for taking the time to ponder this instead of reacting imprudently, no matter what ESPN.com's Scott Burnside says. Thornton will be back, and probably villainized, aside from some dumb Bruins fans, as should be the case. Also, it should be noted that James Neal got five games for kneeing Brad Marchand in the head, which was ugly in its own right.
People are tying this into fighting in the NHL and stuff, which is dumb and it is not related. This is a different, isolated incident, and is more indicative of the league's issue with players having to "pay" for big hits, questionable or otherwise.